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The Ins and Outs of Working as a Detonation Specialist

Posted September 21, 2013 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author

Detonation specialists work with explosives. They use them to remove or loosen a number of materials, as well as to demolish buildings and other structures, like bridges or dams. They are often in charge of the handling and storage of the explosives. According to Careers.org, they may even have some accounting responsibilities - so consider that if you think that the job is only about making things go bang. Careers.org and MyMajors places the median annual wage at between $39,890 and $46,370.

Career opportunities

There are a lot of jobs around that allow you to handle high-powered explosives. You could become a bomb technician and join the bomb disposal squad at police force. You could specialise in explosive weapons and join the army's Explosive Ordnance Team.

The mining industry relies heavily on explosives experts who have to safely detonate rock faces. The construction industry needs people who can clear new ground for new buildings, and bring down old buildings to make way for something new and improved. You could explode your way through mountains on roadworks projects.

You could even make a name for yourself as an explosives specialist in films. Someone has to create and control those impressive explosions when cars go off cliffs, planes crash in forests, bombs go off in restaurants, and soldiers detonate forests.

Fools need not apply

No one in their right mind is going to let an unqualified doofus handle dynamite, chargers and anything else that has the potential to crumble solid rock or level several square city blocks. This makes education extremely important.

A four-year degree in your industry of choice (mining or construction) with specialisation in explosives is usually the minimum requirement. There are also specialist schools, such as the Academy for Blasting and Explosives Technology.

In some cases, like in the police force, fire department, and armed forces, promising individuals are identified and enrolled in special training programmes.

In addition to a sharp brain, you will also need nerves of steel and an ability to concentrate in highly stressful situations. You will also need to have a passion for precision, because one misplaced millimetre could be the difference between a safe blast and a mounting death toll.

Tasks

The roles and responsibilities are varied and depend very much on the industry you enter. Generally, however, if you work with explosives you will probably have to carry out some of the following tasks:

  • Analyse intended sites to verify their viability and to determine the necessary safety measures that will be needed, as well as what explosives will do the job. You will also need to calculate the exact placement of the explosives.
  • Transport explosive materials and blasting equipment. You will need a licence to drive trucks and other heavy vehicles.
  • Manage a varied team of workers, including those who drill holes for explosives, connect the charges, set up safety measures, clean up the debris, and so on. Management tasks may range from designing training programmes to carrying out disciplinary proceedings. Be prepared for everything.
  • Keep an inventory and re-order and re-stock the supply of explosives when necessary.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the field by attending seminars, workshops and conferences, and by reading industry journals and papers. You work in a dangerous industry, so you want to ensure that all of your information and techniques are current.

As you can see, there is more to being a detonation specialist than making things go boom. It's a highly technical job that requires a mathematical brain and a willingness to take exceedingly carefully calculated risks. It's not a job for those whose hearts skip a beat when a balloon bursts or whose hands shake when the pressure is on. On the plus side, only 4.5 per cent of these specialists are unemployed, so you shouldn't have a problem finding a job.

Editor's Note: Jemima Winslow grew up in a mining town where her father who spent his fair share of time managing situations at the rock face, so she is eternally grateful to the explosive specialists who ensured that everything remained safe and stable.

Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1223458

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#1

Re: The Ins and Outs of Working as a Detonation Specialist

09/21/2013 10:15 PM

I'd be more concerned with the up's and down's....

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#2

Re: The Ins and Outs of Working as a Detonation Specialist

09/22/2013 10:02 PM

Interesting article. I have to admit, blowing up things with C4 is a real rush....like a kid playing with his first chemistry set.....or melting or welding steel with Thermite. And you get to learn how to make all sorts of explosive from ordinary household items usually found under the kitchen sink or out in the garage! :-) How kewl is that?!

IMO, learning the trade the right way by becoming an Army Combat Engineer is the way to go and won't cost you a Godzillion bucks to learn it. You only have to put in the time and put up with the BS. Following Combat Engineer AIT you follow up if selected by going through Sapper School at Ft. Leonard Wood MO., to be the among the elite of the Engineers....first in and last out.

There's only 3 "Tabs" one can earn in the US Army: Airborne, Ranger, and Sapper. I'm proud to say I earned all 3.

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Re: The Ins and Outs of Working as a Detonation Specialist

09/23/2013 4:24 AM

I bet more than the 4.5% have injuries to show from their proffession.

Clarence N Hickman (inventor of the Bazooka) lost some fingers in a rocketry accident. He was a keen archer, and in order to continue shooting he designed a more efficient bow, giving rise to the moder target recurve bows we see shot at the olympics.
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#4

Re: The Ins and Outs of Working as a Detonation Specialist

09/23/2013 5:24 AM

When one loses a job in the demolition field, does one get fired?

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Re: The Ins and Outs of Working as a Detonation Specialist

09/23/2013 7:17 AM

Gocha!
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Re: The Ins and Outs of Working as a Detonation Specialist

09/23/2013 7:32 AM

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